Adult string students bring unique challenges which can be very rewarding

Strad teaching adults

Teaching those who have come to their instrument later in life can be an extremely rewarding process, writes Ros Stephen. But the psychological complexities must also be handled with delicacy

I have been teaching the violin to adult beginners and improvers for about 15 years. I find teaching adults very fruitful: articulate, enthusiastic and self-motivated, they tend to take on board information more easily and quickly than children, and are generally more likely to go home and work on topics covered in the lesson.

Learning an instrument can open up a wealth of new opportunities: music enables us to express ourselves in a new way, offers opportunities to meet new people, and provides an outlet for creativity. I have taught many adults who started with no prior musical experience, who are now enjoying playing in amateur orchestras, chamber ensembles and folk groups.

Teaching adults can, however, be more complex than teaching children. Children generally have lower expectations, are less set in their ways, and (hopefully) don’t yet carry the baggage of ingrained insecurities, echoes of negative voices or regrets…

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